The New York Times has a nice overview article on a new literary festival launching in Paris later this week, and run in part by Caro Llewellyn who directed the PEN World Voices Festival a few years back:
Paris is reaching out to recapture its place as a center of literature with a new festival of international writers that was set to begin Friday.
“There’s a sense in America that France is a country of culture, but when you are looking from the inside, a lot of people have been complaining that France needs to find its beating heart again,” said Lila Azam Zanganeh, a French-Iranian writer who now lives in New York and is one of the writers participating in the festival, Écrivains du Monde. [. . .]
The Écrivains du Monde festival may not, on its own, recreate the vibrant sense of literary experimentation and adventure of the first half of the 20th century, when Paris was home to the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, but it marks a new appreciation of the primacy of international writing, in a country that despite a complex relationship with outsiders, has always embraced their contribution to the arts. [. . .]
The inaugural festival draws together some 28 writers from at least 18 countries. Most are not French themselves, but they have been translated into French and have a French following. The authors, who are speaking for small stipends, include some of the best-known fiction writers at work today: Salman Rushdie, John Banville, Richard Ford, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Grossman, Ma Jian and Michael Ondaatje. Also attending are several authors who write in French although not all of them are from France, including two from Lebanon and a Canadian-Haitian. The writers, who are coming for three days to Paris, with a few going on to spend two days in Lyon on Sept. 23 and 24, will hold intimate — and sometimes not so intimate — talks with their readers and literary enthusiasts. Panel discussions will take on topics like the challenges of translation, identity and conflict, literature and war.
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .